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South China Sea wave characteristics during typhoon Muifa passage in winter 2004


The responses to tropical cyclones of ocean wave characteristics in deep water of the western Atlantic Ocean have been investigated extensively, but not the regional seas in the western Pacific such as the South China Sea (SCS), due to a lack of observational and modeling studies there. Since monsoon winds prevail in the SCS but not in the western Atlantic Ocean, the SCS is unique for investigating wave characteristics during a typhoon’s passage in conjunction with steady monsoon wind forcing. To do so, the Wavewatch-III (WW3) is used to study the response of the SCS to Typhoon Muifa (2004), which passed over not only deep water but also the shallow shelf of the SCS. The WW3 model is forced by the NASA QuikSCAT winds and tropical cyclone wind profile model during Typhoon Muifa’s passage from 0000UTC 16 on November to 1200UTC on 25 November 2004. The results reveal the unique features of the SCS wave characteristics in response to Muifa, such as non-decaying, monsoon-generated swell throughout the typhoon period and strong topographic effects on the directional wave spectrum.

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Correspondence to Peter C. Chu.

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Chu, P.C., Cheng, KF. South China Sea wave characteristics during typhoon Muifa passage in winter 2004. J Oceanogr 64, 1–21 (2008).

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  • Directional wave spectrum
  • northeast monsoon
  • QuikSCAT winds
  • significant wave height
  • South China Sea
  • TOPEX/POSEIDON altimetry
  • typhoon
  • Wavewatch-III